Mona Hatoum

Profile

Mona Hatoum is a British Palestinian artist whose poetic and political oeuvre is realized in a diverse and often unconventional range of media, including installation, sculpture, video, photography and works on paper.  She was born into a Palestinian family who, exiled from their homeland, had settled in Beirut, Lebanon. When on a short trip to London in 1975, the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War prevented Hatoum from returning to Beirut. Based in London she pursued a long-held dream to become an artist studying Fine Art from 1975 to 1981 at Byam Shaw School of Art and Slade School of Fine Art. Initially through performance and video and later through installations and large-scale artworks, she expresses the agony and pain experienced by displaced people, social contradictions, and political repression. Hatoum has developed a language in which familiar, domestic everyday objects are often transformed into foreign, threatening and dangerous things, as well as using cartography to explore instability and precariousness in today’s political landscape. Constantly in demand, Hatoum’s works feature in major contemporary art collections and exhibitions. In 2016, a large retrospective exhibition was held at Tate Modern, London and in 2017, she received the Hiroshima Art Prize.

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Mona Hatoum is a British Palestinian artist whose poetic and political oeuvre is realized in a diverse and often unconventional range of media, including installation, sculpture, video, photography and works on paper. 
She was born into a Palestinian family who, exiled from their homeland, had settled in Beirut, Lebanon. When on a short trip to London in 1975, the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War prevented Hatoum from returning to Beirut.
Based in London she pursued a long-held dream to become an artist, studying Fine Art from 1975 to 1981 at Byam Shaw School of Art and Slade School of Fine Art.  Initially she worked in video and performance and later extending her creation to installations and large-scale artworks.
One of her earliest works, Measures of Distance (1988) was an uncharacteristically autobiographical piece featuring a conversation between the artist and her mother, a conversation that reveals the pain of separation and the impact of distance.  Another early piece, Corps étranger (1994) was the result of her critical awareness of the proliferation of surveillance cameras in London. She projects the results of an endoscopy filming her insides onto the floor of a cylindrical structure, the viewer becoming voyeur inside the artist’s own body. 
Using cartography to explore instability and precariousness in today’s political landscape, Hatoum has created a series of world maps, ranging from the map created with Nablus soap and beads, Present Tense (1996), to Map (1999), a map created from glass marbles, to the enormous glowing Hot Spot (2006-2013), a globe made with menacing red neon.
Over the years, Hatoum has developed a language in which familiar, domestic everyday objects are often transformed into foreign, threatening and dangerous things,
“I’m interested in ‘the uncanny.’ When a perfectly familiar situation suddenly appears strange because it has been associated with some kind of traumatic event, it creates feelings of anxiety, unease and dread.”
In 2017, she received the 10th Hiroshima Art Prize and the resulting visit to Japan inspired the remarkable Remains of the Day; ghostly remains of burnt furniture reminding us of the huge devastation caused by the nuclear bomb while at the same time also echoing the aftermath of violence, of war or the ecological disasters of today.
Her pieces often reflect her hybrid and diverse background. “My roots are in the Middle-East. I have a different view of the world. I have had a very eclectic and heterogeneous cultural experience”.
She has become one of the most important artists globally and her works feature in all major collections. In 2011, she was awarded the Joan Miro Prize. A large survey exhibition of her work was held at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London and Kiasma, Helsinki from 2015 to 2017.
Currently, she is based in London and spends her days, as she says, doing “work, work, work.”

Biography

  1952 Born in Beirut, Lebanon
  1970-72 Beirut University College
  1975-79 The Byam Shaw School of Art, London.
  1979-81 The Slade School of Fine Art, London.
  1986 Residency at Nine One One Contemporary Arts Centre, Seattle
  1986-87 Residency at Chisenhale Dance Space, London
  1986-94 Visiting Lecturer, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London
  1989-92 Senior Research Fellow, Cardiff Institute of Higher Education
  1992-97 Part-time teaching post at Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht
  1994 Solo exhibition, Musée National d’Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
  1994-95 Guest Professor, L‘Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts, Paris
  1995 Shortlisted for the Turner Prize
46th Venice Biennale
  1997-98 Solo exhibition tour, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Modern Art Oxford and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
  2000 George Maciunas Prize, Wiesbaden
Solo exhibition at Tate Britain, London
  2002 Documenta XI, Kassel
  2003-04 DAAD scholarship, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Berlin
  2004 The Sonning Prize, University of Copenhagen
Roswitha Haftmann Stiftung Prize, Zurich
  2005 51st Venice Biennale
  2007 Honorary Fellow, University of the Arts London
Documenta XIV
  2008 The Rolf Schock Prize from Swedish Royal Academy
Honorary Doctorate, American University of Beirut
  2009 Solo exhibition at Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice
  2010 Käthe-Kollwitz-Preis 2010, Akademie der Künste, Berlin
Honorary Doctorate, University of Southampton
  2011 Joan Miró Prize
  2012 Solo exhibition at Arter, Istanbul
  2015-17 Survey exhibition tour, Musée National d’Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London and Kiasma, Helsinki
  2017 10th Hiroshima Art Prize, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art